Eight Horrific and Uplifting Stories About Being Gay in the New Russia

Published: August 14, 2013

On January 25, Kremlin-friendly journalist Anton Krasovsky invited a bunch of drag queens on his show on KontrTV, a Kremlin-owned channel. It was his personal protest against a proposed law in the Russian parliament, the Duma, which would ban distributing “gay propaganda” to minors. The law’s broad definition of “propaganda” would prohibit publicly discussing gay relationships, comparing them to heterosexual ones, or calling them “normal.” That is, it would effectively criminalize the process of coming out—so often the driving force for wider social acceptance of gays. Violations would be punishable by hefty fines and, for foreigners, potential imprisonment. Krasovsky had long been a Kremlin shill, but this seemed to break his avid appetite for serving the state. “I’m gay,” he said on the air. “And I’m as much of a person as you, my dear viewers, as President Putin, Prime Minister Medvedev, and the deputies of the Duma.”

The transmission was cut instantaneously. That night, everything Krasovsky had done for the channel was purged from its site. Later that night, he was fired—via text message.

Krasovsky and I had often clashed, but this summer, he wrote to me asking for advice, as life in Russia “had become unsafe and unproductive.” His mother now wanted to sell her house and move, because, Krasovsky says, “now all the neighbors know that I’m not a TV star but a fucking fag.”

When I contacted him for this article, I asked if anything had surprised him about coming out in Russia. He responded: “It wasn’t that I was surprised as much as I was gladdened to discover how amazing our people is. I get thousands of letters of support. Thousands. But only a few contain threats.” 

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